Shopping for a vacuum for your Intex swimming pool?
You’ve come to the right place.
In this 10-minute buying guide, we review and compare the best vacuums for Intex pools.
Most of our top picks are automatic pool vacuums. They are generally more expensive than manual pool vacuum heads, but they save you loads of time and effort.
Once you’ve set up an automatic vacuum, you don’t need to do anything else. It cleans the pool on its own.
To compare more automatic models, read our in-depth automatic pool vacuum buying guide.
If you are shopping for an above ground pool, read our best above ground pool reviews.
Best Vacuums for Intex Pools: Comparison
Intex Auto Pool Cleaner
XtremepowerUS Automatic Suction Vacuum
Hayward 900 Wanda the Whale
Intex Handheld Rechargeable Vacuum
Best Vacuums for Intex Pools: Reviews
Intex Auto Pool Cleaner
The Intex Auto Pool cleaner is designed specifically for 24ft and smaller Intex above ground pools. So you can be sure it won’t damage your pool.
It requires an adequately powerful filter pump with a 1,600-3,500 GPH flow rate.
Intex is notorious for including underpowered filter pumps with their above ground pools. So check your pool pump’s flow rate to see whether you need to upgrade to a stronger pump.
The Intex Auto cleaner is easy to set up. The only connection you need to set up is the hose that runs from the cleaner to your pool’s return port.
Make sure you hook up the hose to the return port, not the filter outlet. The cleaner uses the force of water coming back to the pool to move around.
Unlike suction cleaners, the Intex Auto Pool cleaner doesn’t rely on your pool filter to remove debris. Instead, it has an internal filter screen that captures sand, leaves, and other debris.
Empty and clean the filter frequently to keep the cleaner working properly. Too much debris in the filter prevents the cleaner from moving and picking up more debris.
The Intex auto cleaner has some bristles at the bottom to stir up the dirt stuck on the pool floor.
You’ll still need to brush the pool before putting the cleaner in the water. That’s because the cleaner doesn’t brush the walls.
XtremepowerUS Automatic Suction Pool Cleaner
The XtremepowerUS Automatic Suction vacuum is designed for both above ground and in-ground pools. You can use it to clean an Intex or any other PVC-sided above ground pool.
It hooks up to your pool’s suction/outlet port where the water is sucked out of the pool.
The force of water going out of the pool allows the cleaner to move around on its footpad. It also powers the cleaner’s suction, allowing it to pick up all kinds of debris.
But you’ll still need to brush the pool manually. This suction cleaner only vacuums loose dirt. Once you manually loosen dirt on walls, floor, and steps, it will be easier for the cleaner to pick it up.
Unlike the Intex auto cleaner, the XtremepowerUS Suction cleaner depends on the pool filter to remove debris. So make sure you clean or backwash your pool filter frequently – ideally once or twice a week.
The cleaner comes with everything you need to set it up, including interconnecting hoses, hose weights, the pool cleaner itself, and a regulator valve.
Setting up the pool cleaner is a bit involving. You have to connect the right length of hoses, set up the weights properly, and configure the regulator valve for maximum suction.
Thankfully, the manual has clear instructions, and you can find an installation video on the Amazon product page.
The manufacturer recommends using the XtremepowerUS suction cleaner with a pool pump rated at least 1 HP.
Hayward 900 Wanda the Whale Suction Above-Ground Pool Cleaner
This is another right choice if you are looking for an automatic suction cleaner. It’s more expensive than XtremepowerUS, but it’s also more advanced.
Instead of a basic flapper that ambles around on the pool, the Wanda cleaner has a turbine that precisely controls water flow to ensure optimal mobility, excellent cleaning performance, and quiet operation.
To set it up, you first connect it to your pool’s suction port. This is the hole on the side of the pool where the pump sucks water out for filtration.
If your pool has two outlet ports that lead to the pump, we recommend plugging one closed to maximize suction power.
Wanda comes with several hose sections that you connect. Use only the hose sections you need for your pool length to prevent tangling.
If you have a larger pool (longer than 30ft), you can order additional sections from the manufacturer.
The Wanda suction cleaner works pretty well. It moves around efficiently and quietly, picking up sand, leaves, algae, and other kinds of debris.
Unfortunately, you still have to pre-brush the pool before dunking Wanda into the water. It lacks a brush, meaning you have to get algae manually and stuck debris from the walls and floor of the pool.
Intex Handheld Rechargeable Vacuum
If you are going to get a manual pool vacuum over a much more convenient automatic vacuum, at least buy a powered one like this one from Intex.
Unlike other pool vacuums that are powered by the force of water, either going in or getting out of the pool, the Intex handheld vacuum is battery-powered.
That means you don’t need to hook it up to your pool’s return or suction line, making set up easy and fast.
Once you put in the filter net and the brush-head attachment, it’s good to go.
It comes with two brush attachments.
(i) A wide brush that is perfect for brushing and vacuuming the floor and walls.
(ii) A thinner brush for cleaning corners, along the wall edges and other hard-to-reach areas.
It also comes with its own telescoping pole made from lightweight aluminum.
The onboard Ni-MH battery produces decent suction power. The cleaner can pick up all kinds of debris, including leaves, acorns, sand, and algae.
The black mesh captures larger bits of debris like pebbles and leaves. To get the fine particles, install both the white and black mesh filters (with the white one on the inside).
The bristles on the cleaning head ensure that even the dirt stuck on the pool floor and walls are cleaned off.
On a full charge, the Intex cleaner provides 50 minutes of cleaning time. That’s enough to clean a medium size above ground pool.
For charging, a USB cable is included.
If you are worried about submerging something with a battery in water, Intex has taken plenty of precautions.
The cleaner has an IPX8 water protection rating, the second-highest level of protection.
Additionally, it has an auto shut-off mechanism. When you take it out of the water, it shuts off automatically and restarts when you put it back in the pool. This protects it from damage caused by dry-running.
Note that the Intex handheld cleaner is designed for Intex pools up to 18ft long. It’s also ideal for use in Intex spas.
Dolphin E10 Automatic Robotic Pool Cleaner
Like suction and pressure automatic cleaners, Robotic pool cleaners are hands-free. They clean the pool on their own.
But unlike other automatic cleaners, robotic cleaners don’t hook up to your pool return or suction line. They have an onboard filter, brushes and use electricity for mobility and suction.
Our favorite robotic cleaner for Intex pools (and most other above-ground pools)is the Dolphin E10, a relatively new model from Maytronics.
Most robotic cleaners for above ground pools have very basic features and functionality. They clean well, but you can get much more from the Dolphin E10.
It’s a smaller version of other high-end Dolphin models complete with advanced features like smart navigation for efficient cleaning and active brushing to remove stubborn dirt, algae, and biofilm from the bottom of the pool.
The E10 moves on tracks, which provide better traction than wheels.
The active brush loosens dirt on the pool floor while the powerful suction sucks up debris into the top-loading filter basket.
The filter basket is easy to remove and clean, unlike filter bags. Its only limitation is that it doesn’t capture fine debris like sand and silt.
It does a great job catching leaves, acorns, and bugs, but you’ll have to buy a separate ultra-fine filter for every day cleaning.
The Dolphin E10 is light, making it easy to handle. Unlike most robotic cleaners, you won’t struggle to lift it out of the pool.
Buyer’s Guide: What to Consider When Buying an Intex Pool Vacuum
Type of Vacuum: Automatic vs. Manual
Manual vacuums are the cheapest, with most costing under $100.But you have to push the vacuum around yourself. That means blocking a couple of hours every weekend to vacuum the pool.
If you want to save time vacuuming the pool, invest in an automatic pool vacuum. It’s more expensive, but it’s a time saver.
Suction and pressure vacuums are cheaper than robotic vacuums. You need to connect them to the return or suction port of your pool.
A robotic pool vacuum is more expensive, but it doesn’t require any setup and doesn’t rely on your pool pump or filter.
Here’s our bottom line: if you are on a budget, get a manual pool vacuum. You can get a good one for less than $50. If you want to save time and effort cleaning the pool, buy an automatic pool vacuum.
Pool vacuums have a specific pool size limit that’s based on the length of the hose or cable (for robotic vacuums).
You need to be especially careful if you have a large above ground pool that’s longer than 30 feet. You may need to buy a more capable pool vacuum or order extra hoses to extend the vacuum’s reach.
Pool vacuums are mostly for vacuuming the pool. This involves sucking up debris and filtering it using an onboard filter or the pool filter.
But vacuuming is not enough to clean the pool. The worst of the dirt, including algae, biofilm, and debris, is actually stuck on the pool floor and walls where it hard to remove without brushing.
Some vacuums have brushes to loosen this dirt. Others don’t have brushes, meaning you have to pre-scrub the pool manually to loosen the dirt.
A pool vacuum with brushes or bristles saves you time since you only need to scrub the walls (most above ground pool vacuums don’t clean the walls).
Safe for Your Pool
Not all above ground pool vacuums are safe for your Intex pool. Some vacuums can rip your liner or leave scratches and scuffs.
When shopping, look for a vacuum that is safe for a vinyl or PVC pool.
Look for features like non-marring wheels or tracks, protective bumper, and scratch-resistant hoses.
Frequently Asked Questions on Vacuums for Intex Pools
What is the best vacuum for Intex pools?
Most manual and automatic pool vacuums for above ground pools are also good for Intex pools. Just make sure the vacuum is safe for a vinyl or PVC sided pool.
How do I hook up my Intex pool vacuum?
It depends on the type of vacuum. If it is a suction cleaner, connect the hose to the outlet port. If it is a pressure cleaner, connect the hose to the inlet port.
Make sure you remove all air from the hose before hooking it up. Do this by slowly lowering the vacuum into the pool until the water rises through the hose. Alternatively, connect the hose to the return line and let it fill with water.
A robotic pool cleaner doesn’t need to be hooked up to anything.
Can I leave the pool vacuum in the pool?
Most manufacturers recommend removing the pool vacuum after cleaning to keep it from wearing too fast.
But some suction and pressure cleaners can be left in the pool for hours to vacuum the pool continuously.
Do I need to turn on the pool pump when vacuuming the pool?
Depends on the type of pool vacuum. If it is a manual, suction, or pressure cleaner, your pool pump needs to be on.
That’s because the vacuum uses the force of water coming into the pool or getting out to move and suck the debris.
If you have a robotic pool cleaner, you don’t need to turn on the pool pump. The vacuum has its own power and filter.
How often should I vacuum the pool?
Depends on how dirty your pool gets and how often you use it.
If you don’t struggle much with leaves and dust in your pool, you can vacuum it once a week. But if your pool is near trees or you use it often, you may need to vacuum it more often, and in some cases daily.
If you have an automatic cleaner, you can vacuum daily without any more time or effort.